Burger King Will Start DNA Testing for Horse Meat

Burger King pledges that DNA testing will ensure that its "BK Quad Stacker" hamburger has four provably all-beef patties Photograph by Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Just to be clear: Burger King says there is no horse meat in its burgers. And just to make sure, Burger King tells Bloomberg Businessweek, it plans to test its beef patties for foreign DNA, including horse, pork, and lamb.

Details for DNA testing have not been worked out, and no timeline has been set for implementing the new procedures, says Diego Beamonte, Burger King’s vice president of global quality. Burger King will test specifically for equine DNA following revelations that food processor Silvercrest Foods sold beef products containing horse meat to other retailers, including Tesco. Both companies have severed ties with Silvercrest, and Tesco has also said it will do DNA testing on all of its meat products.

Burger King said in a statement today that while the beef it sent to a lab in Germany earlier this month tested negative for any equine DNA, it decided to drop Silvercrest after learning this week that a small percentage of beef the vendor had sold to the chain came from a non-approved supplier in Poland, rather than the 100 percent British and Irish beef patties it had undertaken to provide.

While samples taken from the Silvercrest plant contained equine DNA, Burger King says this product was never sold to its restaurants.

Here’s the full text of Burger King’s statement, as posted to PR Newswire:

We know there has been concern regarding one of our former suppliers, Silvercrest Foods, and we want to thank our guests for their patience and understanding while we completed our investigation.

You wanted answers and so did we.

Earlier this month, we were notified that Silvercrest was under investigation for potential contamination of some retail products. At that time, they were approved to supply 100% Irish and British beef patties for BURGER KING(R) restaurants in the UK, Ireland and Denmark.

Despite assurances from them that our products were not implicated, we immediately launched our own internal investigation, which included scientific testing, inspection of the Silvercrest facility and scrutiny of traceability records.

As we confirmed on 23rd of January, we transitioned all of our restaurants in the UK, Ireland and Denmark to other BURGER KING(R) approved suppliers from Germany and Italy as a precaution. These suppliers have provided DNA evidence to confirm their products are free of equine DNA. These are the product being sold in our restaurants today.

Following the conclusion of our investigation:

Our independent DNA tests results on product taken from BURGER KING(R) restaurants were negative for any equine DNA. However, four samples recently taken from the Silvercrest plant have shown the presence of very small trace levels of equine DNA. This product was never sold to our restaurants.

ithin the last 36 hours, we have established that Silvercrest used a small percentage of beef imported from a non-approved supplier in Poland. They promised to deliver 100% British & Irish beef patties and have not done so. This is a clear violation of our specifications, and we have terminated our relationship with them.

Through our investigation, we have confirmed that this non-approved Polish supplier is the same company identified by the Irish Department of Agriculture as the source of Silvercrest’s contamination issue.

Diego Beamonte, vice president, Global Quality, Burger King Corporation, said, “While the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has stated that this is not a food safety issue, we are deeply troubled by the findings of our investigation and apologise to our guests, who trust us to source only the highest quality 100% beef burgers. Our supplier has failed us and in turn we have failed you. We are committed to ensuring that this does not happen again.

“We will dedicate ourselves to determining what lessons can be learned and what additional measures, including DNA testing and enhanced traceability controls, can be taken to ensure that we continue to provide you with the quality products you expect from us.”

We remain committed to identifying suppliers that can produce 100% pure Irish and British beef products for us that meet our high quality standards.

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